Pass protection struggled against the blitz throughout the game and it culminated into a fourth quarter turnover:
Both Guards are uncovered versus a double A gap blitz and depending on the call:
- one of the Guards had to slide inside to account for a blitzer leaving Kirk responsible for the outside rusher, OR
- CT was left to pick up one inside blitzer and Kirk was responsible for the other inside blitzer, OR
- Reed had to pick up the man outside him or adjust his route for a quicker completion
I searched everywhere for a Chris Cooley breakdown of this play and could not find it. So going on what makes sense, the third option works best because we don’t give a rusher unfettered access to our Quarterback unless Reed runs a hot slant.
Back to the play, Crowder came open over the middle and Cousins is forced to arc one off his back foot:
The ball sails over Crowder and instead of being up by a score we trailed with 12 minutes remaining.
They ran a double A-gap blitz earlier and created the same problem where CT had to account for both guys coming up the middle of the field:
The protection is sliding toward Reed which means we are trying to free him up to run his route in which case their should have been a route adjustment for a quicker throw.
The rest of the failed drives stalled mainly due to Vernon Davis’ run blocking.
Offensive Line and Tight Ends
|Lauvao||2.5||4.5||-2: gave up a sack to Jernigan|
|Moses||3||7.5||-4.5: Brandon Graham|
+ plays are good - plays are bad Pass pro: If Kirk had 3 seconds or longer to throw with a lane: +1. Less than 3 seconds/Blitz not picked up: -1
Offensive Line: We had a ‘Pin and Pull’ package (or Crack Sweep if you prefer) where the receivers Pin down (yellow) and our lineman Pull outside to block linebackers and defensive backs. The first puller (Williams) kicks out the force defender. The second puller (Lauvao) pulls through and cleans up any trash with a white jersey:
On it’s first go around, Long and Ryan Grant blocked the same guy:
Even if Grant blocked the wrong guy Long needed to see that and adjust; move on and find work elsewhere. Based off of how everyone else lined up their blocks, it looks like Long was responsible for the linebacker lined up on the hash marks. In that case, he could have taken a tighter angle:
Failing to do so set off a domino effect that forced Lauvao to block Long’s guy instead of someone else at the third level which could have turned this play into a home run shot.
Pin and Pull has a convincing Play Action where the combination of Pin blocks and Pulling motion sucks in second level defenders like the Safety on this play:
Pin and Pull, Wham and Counter are an arsenal of Gap runs we use as a change up to our bread and butter Outside Zone runs. We had to dip into our Gap schemes a lot in this game as Philly blew up our Outside Zone early by exploiting our Tight End blocking.
Tight Ends: Slants from the Defensive Ends gave Reed and Davis fits throughout the first half,
Reed (on the line, bottom of the screen):
In this play Davis had his path to the the linebacker cut off because of the inside slant from the DE:
Davis needed to read that inside slant on his first step and alter his path to the outside of the Defensive End.
Gruden deployed a bunch formation as an answer to the DE slant problem:
The Tight End will essentially let the DE go where he is slanting to. The Linebacker behind the DE is taken care of by Grant and our Running Back is left with a one on one with their Cornerback:
Gruden drew up a handful of runs that afforded Kelley a one-on-one with a Defensive Back. To his credit Kelley fell forward on contact each time to pick up a few extra yards but you can’t help to wonder what a shifter RB could do in the same situation.
Vernon Davis: Here is Davis on a Power run, unable to control his man who–again–slants inside:
Davis’ mistake blows up an otherwise cleanly blocked run, I mean even Ryan Grant had his guy blocked right.
[btw, Gruden’s play calling on that Power run had a creative wrinkle where we inserted the Fullback to the side away from the Tight End to give our Running Back an extra blocker if he cut back away from the TE side.]
Just to drive the point home about Davis’ run blocking, here he is whiffing on a cut block in the open field (tight end bottom of the line):
If Davis makes that block, CT gets to full speed and is one on one with a defender in space which could’ve meant six.
Still not done, Here’s Davis on a Counter play whiffing on not one but two blocks:
Moses cleans up on Davis’ first miss and Kelley stiff arms Davis’ second miss but the delay allows the defense time to rally to the ball. There were a lot of hidden yards left on the table in large part because of Davis.
Guards: There was good news that came from this game as both guards seemed to have mastered our Gap schemes.
On this Power Run the pre-snap read is for Scherff and Moses to double the lineman and work their way towards the backside linebacker (yellow path) while Lauvao pulls and seals out the frontside linebacker (whose walking up to the line):
After the snap the frontside linebacker stunts inside and Scherff and Lauvao have to switch responsibilities which they do seamlessly:
The play should have left CT in space against the safety but Moses pulls up and stops blocking his man for reasons I can’t figure out.
Run Blocks: the OLine performed up to expectations with Long and Moses needing to work out a couple of kinks. Pass Pro: Good for the most part; Moses and Lauvao were each beat by Graham and Jernigan respectively. A couple of blitzes got to Kirk but I think those were due mainly to Reed’s lack of a hot route adjustment.
Great Decision AND Accurate Throw: +1 Good Decision but off target: +0.5 Screen pass/Checkdown: 0 Had better options but accurate throw: -0.5 Poor Decision AND Off Target throw: -1 That is just a rough guide, context matters. For example: If it's third down and Cousins checks it down when there was a better option available for a first down, that's a -1 regardless of how accurate the throw was. % = good plays/total plays
The Good: On this 3rd and 11, Cousins looked at his underneath option and suckered in the coverage just enough to sneak in a throw behind it for a first down (top of the screen):
Sometimes his receivers didn’t help out and Cousins had to take off. On 3rd and 2, Reed (top of the screen) takes forever to get out of his break:
By the time Reed broke free Pryor was right on his ass and has to slow down to avoid congesting the middle of the field. That can’t be how the spacing is coached, but Kirk was able to recognize it and abort the throw quickly enough to pick up the first.
The Bad: Pre-snap Cousins makes up his mind on where he wants to go and he doesn’t adjust based on what happens after the snap.
Against a blitz look with a single high safety Cousins immediately looks to attack the Cover 3 CB. If he scanned the field for just a second he would’ve seen Reed come open on his hot route adjustment (Reed is in the slot, bottom of the screen):
Cousins almost always locked on the outside WR when he saw Cover 3. It’s a coverage that asks the CB to play with a lot of cushion so I understand attacking it every now and then for some easy yards but in a case like this there has to be some recognition of where the blitz is coming from and which receiver is adjusting.
Wide Receivers and Tight Ends (Receiving)
One route running gaffe that stuck out was against this Cover 2 shell. Pryor (bottom of the screen) would’ve given Kirk a better throw if he had broken his route off toward the sideline and into the open grass created by Cover 2:
Instead he breaks it inside and gives the inside coverage time to break up the play.
Otherwise the only consistent issue was our Hot route adjustments. Against the blitz our receivers need to give Kirk a quick outlet like this route by Jordan Reed (same play shown earlier):
Compare that adjustment by Reed to this one by Doctson (bottom of the screen):
It’s a Cover 0 blitz and Doctson is taking forever to complete his route when it would’ve made a ton more sense if he broke it off into a slant. If Crowder’s deep route was the hot check, then they need to rethink their adjustments. Asking Cousins to make a deep throw while under pressure to one of our smallest wide receivers doesn’t sound like the soundest of strategies.
It’s a subjective game to grade Route running since we have no idea what the call was but I marked down Routes where the WR did not optimize his place on the field given the coverage and situation. One bad route = -1: Pryor -4, Reed -3, Davis -1, Doctson -1, Quick -1.
Player Of The Game
POTG: Silverback. Through all the negatives Williams was a constant force with his kick-out and down blocks in our Gap schemes and he had zero negatives in Pass Pro. I’m sure their will be plenty of opportunities in future posts to break down his individual play.
Who Else Played Well: Ryan Grant scored positive in his run blocking and didn’t have any route running errors that I noticed. Scherff was Scherff.
Gotta Get Better: Davis and Reed versus run. Especially Davis, he was god awful and is one of the scapegoats for the loss. Moses struggled but level of competition applies. Lauvao giving up a sack to Jernigan (who finished with just 2.5 on the season) was worrisome, Long needs to clean up his run blocking.
What Does It Mean For the Future?
- Double A-gap blitzes: It looks like Reed was the issue.
- Sacks: Moses getting beat by Graham is kinda expected since that is one of the League’s premier rushers. Lauvao getting worked by Jernigan was concerning.
- WRs and TEs had a handful of routes to clean up.
- Hot Route adjustments: Jordan Reed had a couple to bail out Cousins but he also had a couple where it seemed he failed to adjust. Doctson was rusty.
- Run Blocking: Philly is fast up front and blew up our outside zone runs mainly by exploiting our Tight Ends. We had to resort to our gap scheme runs such as Pin and Pull, Counter and Power.
- Gap Schemes: Good for the most part. Moses goofed on a Power Run as did Long on a Pin and Pull. Silverback and both Guards were firing on all cylinders.
- Play Calling: Gruden called run plays with home run potential but they were thwarted by missed blocks up front and lack of athleticism from our early-down RB stable. Hard not to wonder how many big plays a shiftier RB could get in this system.
- Kelley has a vicious stiff arm. That seems like a useful tool for late in the game.
- Vernon Davis: a strong argument could be made that his run blocking single handedly cost us the game.
- Cousins: Up and down, but so were most QBs for the first three weeks. Offensive timing was an issue in the League until Week 4 IIRC.